FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT/Counties test online risk training
A partnership between the National Association of Counties and the Arlington, Va.-based Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA), is developing risk management training that counties can access via the Internet. The curriculum is being created as part of a pilot project that targets officials in non-metropolitan counties. The project is funded by a $200,000 grant to the partnership from the Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI), Fairfax, Va.
Initially, the partnership will develop training modules and post them online for selected officials. Elected officials who set policy and appointed officials and staff members who implement risk management programs are eligible. Once the 18-month pilot project is complete and the curriculum is refined, materials will be available online for any county official with access to the Net.
The project focuses on rural communities because officials in those areas often have more difficulty gaining access to training than their counterparts in metropolitan counties. The training modules will make standardized risk management information available throughout the country.
During the pilot program, one or more officials from approximately 10 counties will receive training and provide feedback on the online modules. Upon completion of that phase next year, NACo plans to use the project information to revise the modules. The core curriculum will then be posted on NACo’s web site, www.naco.org., and the materials also will be accessible through PRIMA’s web site, www.PRIMACentral.org.
PRIMA is spearheading content development for the modules, while NACo’s Rural Action Caucus and its Risk Services and Benefits Sector Steering Committee will review the information. Content is still being determined, but the four training modules likely will include: * An Introduction to Risk Management. The module will define risk management; explain why it is important for county management; identify officials’ roles; and suggest how to integrate those roles into current programs; * Risk Identification and Assessment. The section will outline typical perils and exposures, suggest risk identification tools, and identify inspection and reporting methods. * Risk Analysis. The module will examine issues such as employee safety and liability, claims administration, litigation management, financing and emergency preparedness; and * Establishing A Risk Management Program. The section will cover strategies for choosing and implementing a risk management program; training and integration efforts; and monitoring and evaluation processes.
Applications are being evaluated, and participants likely will be chosen later this month. Each participating official will receive training via the modules as well as online instruction through chat rooms and other forms of virtual communication. After the first two modules are completed, NACo will conduct an on-site evaluation with some of the participants to learn how the training program is working, and to discover ways to improve instruction and provide support.
While NACo has used the Internet for education in the past, the risk management project represents the organization’s foray into formal Internet training. It is the first step toward a planned NACo Internet university, which will provide materials tailored to the interests and needs of county officials and employees. NACo hopes to provide more extensive risk management content in future web offerings.